United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
ANGELA R. HUFF, Individually, and as Executrix of the Estate of DAVID W. HUFF, Plaintiffs,
AGCO CORPORATION, CARGILL, INCORPORATED, and SOUTHERN STATES SOMERSET COOPERATIVE, INCORPORATED, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT .
matter is before the Court on three motions to dismiss and
one motion to remand. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court remands this action to Mercer Circuit Court and denies
the remaining motions as moot.
following facts are drawn from the Plaintiffs complaint. On
August 4, 2016, David Huff was killed when the Willmar
Wrangler 4500 he was operating malfunctioned and overturned,
pinning him underneath. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 20-29.) A
Willmar Wrangler 4500 is a front-end loader with an
articulated frame and an 83-inch-long by 40.5-inch-wide by
39.5-inch-deep bucket. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23.) The bucket on
the loader operated by David Huff was original, correctly
mounted, and broke off while in use. (Am. Compl. ¶¶
24-26.) The bucket demonstrated wear, as a result of a
manufacturing defect, which caused it to break off its
mounting. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30, 32.) The loader also
lacked warnings that the bucket or mounting system could fail
and cause serious injury or death. (Am. Compl. ¶ 35.)
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet Occupational Safety and Health
Program conducted an investigation of the incident and issued
a report which referred to the Willmar Wrangler 4500 as a
2000 (year). (Am. Compl. ¶ 39.) The report does not
contain any information as to how the Willmar Wrangler 4500
was a 2000 (year) and whether that references the date of
manufacture, sale, distribution, or design. (Am. Compl.
States Somerset was the original purchaser and owner of the
Willmar Wrangler 4500 and transferred it to David Huffs
employer on March 18, 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-17.)
AGCO acquired Willmar Manufacturing from Cargill in 1998
pursuant to a Sale and Purchase of Assets Agreement, and AGCO
is the successor in interest to Willmar Manufacturing. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 11-13.) The Sale and Purchase of Assets
Agreement between Cargill and AGCO lists certain excluded
liabilities which AGCO did not assume from Cargill. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 14.) They include any liabilities relating to
Cargill's violation of laws or regulations, arising out
of expressed or implied warranties made by Cargill, or based
on any product sold or manufactured by Cargill prior to the
closing date of the sale. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.)
number of motions are pending before the Court, and therefore
a review of the procedural history is necessary to establish
the current posture of this action. Plaintiff Angela Huff
originally commenced this products liability action in Mercer
Circuit Court on August 2, 2017 against Defendants AGCO and
Cargill. (Compl., DE 1-1.) AGCO and Cargill removed this
action on August 25, 2017, invoking this Court's
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(DE 1.) Shortly thereafter, Cargill filed its first motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). (DE 8.) Rather than filing a response to motion,
Huff, invoking Rule 15(a)(1), filed an amended complaint
without leave of the Court. (DE 12.) In her amended
complaint, Huff joined Southern States Somerset as a
defendant. (DE 12.) She identified Southern States Somerset
as a Virginia business entity and asserted that the Court
retained diversity of citizenship jurisdiction over the
action. (Am. Compl. ¶ 7- 8, DE 12.)
asserts the following claims in her amended complaint. Count
I alleges that Cargill and AGCO are strictly liable for
defective design and failure to warn. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 51-59.) Count II alleges that Cargill and AGCO
were negligent in failing to warn David Huff of the
propensity of the Willmar Wrangler 4500 to fail. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 60-69.) Count III alleges that Cargill and AGCO
were negligent designing and manufacturing the Willmar
Wrangler 4500 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 70-74.) Count IV
alleges that Cargill and AGCO violated statutes and
regulations in designing, producing, distributing, and
marketing the Willmar Wrangler 4500, constituting negligence
per se. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 75-83.) Count V
alleges that Cargill and AGCO breached express warranties
made to David Huff that the Willmar Wrangler 4500 was safe
and fit for its intended use and free from defects. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶84-96.) Count VI alleges breach of implied
warranties of merchantability and fitness for particular
purpose by Cargill and AGCO. ((Am. Compl. ¶¶
97-105.) And, finally, Count VII alleges that Southern States
Somerset was negligent in maintaining the Willmar Wrangler
4500 used by David Huff. ((Am. Compl. ¶¶ 106-110.)
filed a second 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim in response to Huffs amended complaint. (DE
16.) In their motion, Cargill attached two exhibits cited by
Huff in her amended complaint: the 1998 Asset Purchase
Agreement between AGCO and Cargill and the Kentucky Labor
Cabinet Occupational Safety and Health Program Report on
David Huffs death. In Angela Huffs response to the motion to
dismiss, she argues that inclusion of the exhibits has
converted its 12(b)(6) motion to a Rule 56 motion for summary
judgment. Accordingly, she cross-moved to stay Cargill's
motion pending discovery. (DE 22.)
States Somerset has also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing
that the claims against it are barred by the exclusivity
provision of the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act, Ky.
Rev. Stat 342.690. (DE 27.) Huff has filed a response in
which she again moves for the Court to convert the motion
into one for summary judgment and asks the Court to stay the
motion pending discovery. (DE 34.)
Huff has filed a motion for remand for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, (DE 32), based on Southern States
Somerset's representation in its answer that it is
Kentucky corporation, (Answer ¶ 5, DE 27). Huff also
requests a stay of the Defendants' motions to dismiss on
the basis that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
The Defendants' have filed responses to the motion to
remand, and Huff has filed a reply. Replies and responses
have been filed on all of the motions discussed above and
these matters are now ripe for consideration.
first motion for the Court to consider is Huffs motion to
remand (DE 32) because it asserts that the Court lacks
jurisdiction over this matter. Federal district courts have
limited subject matter jurisdiction. U.S. Const, art. Ill.
§ 2, cl. 1. That jurisdiction extends only over claims
arising under federal law, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and civil
actions between citizens of different states, or between a
state or its citizens and a foreign state or its citizens,
where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. Diversity of citizenship jurisdiction requires
complete diversity between all plaintiffs and all defendants.
Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (citing
Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996)).
Thus, in multiparty cases, the "presence in the action
of a single plaintiff from the same State as a single
defendant deprives the district court of original
jurisdiction over the entire action." Exxon
Mobil Corp v. A Uapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546,
553 (2005) (citing Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 3 Cranch
267 (1806); Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v.
Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 375 (1978)).
amended complaint, Huff invokes this Court's diversity
jurisdiction, asserting that she and the decedent are
citizens of Kentucky, that AGCO and are Delaware businesses,
and that Southern States Somerset is a Virginia business.
(Am. Compl ¶¶ 1-2, 5-7.) This assertion was based
on a report from the Kentucky Secretary of State which
identified Southern States Somerset as a foreign corporation
with its principal office in Richmond, Virginia. (DE 32-1.)
In its answer, Southern States Somerset stated that its
principal place of business is in Kentucky. (Answer ¶ 5,
DE 27.) Similarly, in its Rule 7.1(a) corporate disclosure,
Southern States Somerset stated that it is incorporated in
Virginia with its principal place of business in Somerset,
Kentucky. (DE 26.) Thus, it is uncontested that Southern
States Somerset is a citizen of Virginia and Kentucky, 28
U.S.C. 1332(c)(1) ("[A] corporation shall be deemed to
be a citizen ...